Penn State upsets Michigan, Illinois continues strong play: Big Ten Week in Review (2/12-2/17)

This week in Big Ten basketball, Penn State finally pieced it altogether and pulled off a major upset at home over Michigan, and Illinois has now won five of their last six, including wins over two ranked opponents. Joe Wisekamp also hit a huge buzzer-beater to lift Iowa over Rutgers. Let’s get into the games!

Game Scores & Mini-recaps:

6 Michigan vs. Penn State: Penn State 75, Michigan 69

Penn State built a 13 point halftime lead and fought off a late rally in an upset win over Michigan. Michigan shot 5 percent better than Penn State from the field, but Penn State drew 21 total fouls. Lamar Stevens led Penn State with 26 points and 12 rebounds. Charles Matthews had 24 for the Wolverines.

11 Michigan State vs. 20 Wisconsin: Michigan State 67, Wisconsin 59

Michigan State shot 41 percent from three and picked up another solid conference win over Wisconsin. Cassius Winston had 23 points, six rebounds, and six assists. Kenny Goins and Nick Ward were also in double-figures, and Ethan Happ led Wisconsin with 20 points and 12 rebounds.

12 Purdue vs. 24 Maryland: Maryland 70, Purdue 56

Maryland held the number 12 team in the nation to just 56 points as they picked up another big win. Purdue got 24 points from Carsen Edwards in the loss, but shot a poor 8-of-27. Five Terrapins were in double figures, including Bruno Fernando who had a 12 point, 12 rebound double-double.

Rutgers vs. Northwestern: Rutgers 59, Northwestern 56

Geo Baker and Montez Mathis each had 12 points to lead Rutgers to a home win over Northwestern. Eugene Omoruyi added 11 points and seven rebounds. Vic Law had 17 points, and A.J. Turner had 11 points for Northwestern.

Minnesota vs. Nebraska: Nebraska 62, Minnesota 61

James Palmer Jr. hit two free-throws with a second left as Nebraska survived at home against Minnesota. Palmer Jr. had 24 points on the night, and Glynn Watson Jr. had 19 points. Jordan Murphy led Minnesota with 19 points and 13 rebounds, and Daniel Oturu had 16.

Illinois vs. Ohio State: Illinois 63, Ohio State 56

Ohio State was held to just 36 percent shooting at home as Illinois came into town to stun the Buckeyes and continue their strong play. Trent Frazier and Ayo Dosunmu each had 15 points, and Giorgi Bezhanishvilli had 13 points and seven rebounds. C.J. Jackson had 17 points for Ohio State, and the Wessons combined for 21 points and 10 rebounds.

24 Maryland vs. 6 Michigan: Michigan 65, Maryland 52

Despite Cassius Winston being out, Michigan still played well and got a win over a ranked Maryland team at home. Ignas Brazdeikas, Charles Matthews, and Zavier Simpson all were in double-figures for the Wolverines. Aaron Wiggins led Maryland with 15 points and six boards off of the bench.

Penn State vs. 12 Purdue: Purdue 76, Penn State 64

Purdue bounced back from their poor shooting night last game to shoot 52 percent and get a win over Penn State. Carsen Edwards had 21 points to pace Purdue, and Matt Haarms had 18 points and six rebounds. Lamar Stevens had 18 points and Rasir Bolton had 17 points for the Nittany Lions.

21 Iowa vs. Rutgers: Iowa 71, Rutgers 69

Joe Wisekamp hit an improbable baseline three-pointer off of the glass at the buzzer as Iowa stunned Rutgers in New Jersey. Jordan Bohannon led Iowa with 18 points and five assists, Isaiah Moss had 17, and Tyler Cook had 12 points and seven rebounds. Ron Harper Jr. had 16 for Rutgers, and Eugene Omoruyi had 10 points and 11 boards.

Indiana vs. Minnesota: Minnesota 84, Indiana 63

Jordan Murphy had a huge 23 point, 11 rebound double-double as Minnesota blew out Indiana at home. Gabe Kalscheur also had 20 points, While Aaron Coffey had 18 points, seven assists, and six rebounds. Juwan Morgan led Indiana with 14 points and eight rebounds.

Northwestern vs. Nebraska: Nebraska 59, Northwestern 50

Isaiah Roby had 19 points and 16 rebounds, along with five blocks to pace Nebraska in a win over Nebraska. James Palmer Jr. and Glynn Watson Jr. were also in double figures for the winners. Vic Law had 15 points and Derek Pardon had 13 points and 12 rebounds.

Ohio State vs. 11 Michigan State: Michigan State 62, Ohio State 54

Ohio State was held to just 32 percent shooting on the road as they were blown out by Michigan State. Matt McQuaid had 14 points, and Cassius Winston had 13 points and eight assists for the Spartans. Kaleb Wesson led the Buckeyes with 12 points and nine rebounds.

Standings & Rankings:

7 Michigan, 23-3 (12-3)

10 Michigan State, 21-5 (12-3)

15 Purdue, 18-7 (11-3)

24 Maryland, 19-7 (10-5)

21 Iowa, 20-5 (9-5)

22 Wisconsin, 17-8 (9-5)

Minnesota, 17-9 (7-8)

Ohio State, 16-9 (6-8)

Illinois, 10-15 (6-8)

Nebraska, 15-11 (5-10)

Rutgers, 12-13 (5-10)

Indiana, 13-12 (4-10)

Northwestern, 12-13 (3-11)

Penn State, 9-16 (2-12)

 

 

 

 

Illinois upsets Michigan State: Big Ten week in review (2/4-2/10)

Illinois pulled off a crazy upset over Michigan St. this week, and Iowa’s Jordan Bohannon hit a crazy buzzer-beater in a win over Northwestern to lead the story-lines of the week. Let’s get into the games!

Scores & Mini-recaps

Penn State vs. Northwestern: Penn State 59, Northwestern 52

Penn State’s 18 points from Lamar Stevens and 14 points from Rasir Bolton off the bench was enough for Penn State to pick up their first conference win. Penn State shot just 38 percent, but limited Northwestern to just 32 percent. Derek Pardon had 18 points and 10 rebounds and Vic Law had 10 points and 10 rebounds for Northwestern.

7 Michigan vs. Rutgers: Michigan 77, Rutgers 65

Ignas Brazdeikis led Michigan with 23 points as the Wolverines were able to pick up a road win at Rutgers. Jon Teske and Jordan Poole combined for 22 points but shot a poor 8-for-23 together. Eugene Omoruyi had 21 points and Montez Mathis had 12 points for Rutgers.

9 Michigan St. vs. Illinois: Illinois 79, Michigan St. 74

Illinois pulled the upset of the week with a big home win over Michigan State. Ayo Dosunmu had 24 points, Giorgi Bezhanishvilli had 16, and Trent Frazier had 15 for the winners. Cassius Winston had another big night for Michigan St., finishing with 21 points and nine assists.

19 Wisconsin vs. Minnesota: Wisconsin 56, Minnesota 51

Ethan Happ had a 15 point, 13 rebound double-double to lead Wisconsin to a road victory over Minnesota. Brad Davidson added 10 points, and Nate Reuvers had nine rebounds and seven blocks for Wisconsin. Jordan Murphy had a huge 16 point, 19 rebound performance for the losers.

24 Maryland vs. Nebraska: Maryland 60, Nebraska 45

Jalen Smith and Bruno Fernando both had double-doubles to power Maryland past Nebraska. Maryland shot the ball 38 percent, but held Nebraska to an extremely poor 21 percent, including 0-for-10 shooting from Glynn Watson Jr. for Nebraska. Isaiah Roby 20 points and 1 rebounds to lead the Cornhuskers.

20 Iowa vs. Indiana: Iowa 77, Indiana 72

Jordan Bohannon and Tyler Cook combined for 46 points for Iowa in their win over Indiana. Iowa made 10 threes and 13 free-throws on the night. Romeo Langford had 22 points and five rebounds for Indiana, and Juwan Morgan added 17.

Penn State vs. Ohio State: Ohio State 74, Penn State 70

Ohio State’s 50 percent shooting helped power them to a win over the feisty Penn State Nittany Lions. Luther Muhammad had 20 points, and Andre Wesson had 15 points and 10 boards for the Buckeyes. Lamar Stevens and Josh Reaves each had 20 for Penn State,.

19 Wisconsin vs. 7 Michigan: Michigan 61, Wisconsin 52

Charles Matthews had 18 points, and Jon Teske had 17 points and 12 rebounds to lead the Wolverines over the Badgers. Michigan shot 45 percent while limiting themselves to just five turnovers.  Ethan Happ had 18 points and 11 rebounds to pace Wisconsin.

Minnesota vs. 9 Michigan State: Michigan St. 79, Minnesota 55

Michigan State finally broke out of their three game losing streak with a blowout win over the sliding Minnesota Golden Gophers. nick Ward had 22 points and nine rebounds and Cassius Winston had 11 points and nine assists. Matt McQuaid added 18 points, and eight more assists, as Michigan State thrives off the catch-and-shoot. Gabe Kalscheur had 17 points for Minnesota.

Nebraska vs. 15 Purdue: Purdue 81, Nebraska 62

Carsen Edwards dropped 27 points as Purdue blew out Nebraska at home. Grady Eifert had 16 points, and Nojel Eastern had 12 points and 10 rebounds. Thomas Allen led Nebraska with 18 points off the bench, and Nebraska shot just 38 percent on the night.

Rutgers vs. Illinois: Illinois 99, Rutgers 94 (OT)

Giorgi Bezhanishvilli exploded for 35 points, as Illinois took down Rutgers at home in overtime. Four total players would reach double figures for Illinois, who shot the ball 50 percent. Caleb McConnell had a big night for Rutgers with 25 points and nine rebounds off the bench.

Northwestern vs. 20 Iowa: Iowa 80, Northwestern 79

Iowa was down 15 points with 4:30 left, but Iowa fought back and won the game thanks to a Jordan Bohannon buzzer-beater. He had 15 points, but Joe Wieskamp led with 21 points while Tyler cook had 19 points and 11 rebounds. Vic Law led Northwestern with 24 points and 10 boards.

Ohio State vs. Indiana: Ohio State 55, Indiana 52

Indiana couldn’t convert in the final seconds to send the game into overtime, as Ohio State snuck away from Bloomington with a 55-52 win. The Wesson brothers combined for 25 of Ohio State’s 55 points, as the team shot 44 percent. Romeo Langford had 15 points for Indiana, while Juwan Morgan was held in-check with just three points, but still managed to haul-in 14 boards.

Standings & Rankings

6 Michigan, 22-2 (11-2)

12 Purdue, 17-6 (10-2)

11 Michigan St., 19-5 (10-3)

20 Wisconsin, 17-7 (9-4)

24 Maryland, 18-6 (9-4)

21 Iowa, 19-5 (8-5)

Ohio State, 16-7 (6-6)

Minnesota, 16-8 (6-7)

Illinois, 9-15 (5-8)

Indiana, 13-11 (4-9)

Rutgers, 11-12 (4-9)

Northwestern, 12-11 (3-9)

Nebraska, 13-11 (3-10)

Penn State, 8-15 (1-11)

 

Iowa and Indiana pull major upsets: Big Ten basketball week in review (1/29-2/3)

Another fun week of Big Ten hoops is led by Iowa dominating Michigan, Indiana upsetting Michigan St., and Wisconsin with two big wins. Six teams hit the Top 25 this week! There were 12 games, so let’s dive into it!

Results & Mini-Recaps

Ohio St. vs. 5 Michigan: Michigan 65, Ohio State 49

Zavier Simpson’s triple-double with 11 points, 12 assists, and 10 rebounds helped Michigan cruise past Ohio State. Four different Michigan players got into double-figures, including 12 points off the bench for sophomore Isaiah Livers. Kaleb Wesson led Ohio State with 12 points, seven rebounds, and three blocks.

Northwestern vs. 21 Maryland: Maryland 70, Northwestern 52

Bruno Fernando’s 22 points and 10 rebounds helped lead Maryland to a convincing win over Northwestern. Maryland held Northwestern to just 31 percent from the field. Jalen Smith had 14 points and nine rebounds to support Fernando. Anthony Gaines had 18 points and seven rebounds to lead Northwestern.

24 Wisconsin vs. Nebraska: Wisconsin 62, Nebraska 51

Wisconsin held Nebraska to just 28 percent from the field to beat Nebraska, despite being out-rebounded. Three Wisconsin Badgers were in double figures, including Ethan Happ who also had nine rebounds. Isaiah Roby had 18 points and nine rebounds to lead Nebraska.

Indiana vs. Rutgers: Rutgers 66, Indiana 58

Rutgers strong effort on the boards helped them beat the struggling Indiana Hoosiers. Three Scarlet Knights were in double-figures, and they held Indiana to just 35 percent shooting. Romeo Langford led Indiana with 20 points and six rebounds in the loss.

Illinois vs. Minnesota: Minnesota 86, Illinois 75

Five Minnesota players were in double-figures as they beat Illinois by 11. Minnesota shot a strong 50 percent in the win, compared to 45 percent from Illinois. Trent Frazier had a huge 30 point performance for Illinois in the loss, and two Fighting Illini were in double-figures off of the bench.

17 Purdue vs. Penn St.: Purdue 99, Penn St. 90 (OT)

Purdue shot the lights out at 55 percent, and survived the last-place Penn State in overtime. Conference scoring leader Carsen Edwards exploded for 38 points, and teammate Ryan Cline added 20. Lamar Stevens had 24 points for Penn State, and the Nittany Lions hit 30 free-throws to counter their poor 39 percent shooting.

5 Michigan vs. Iowa: Iowa 74, Michigan 59

Iowa jumped out to a 13 point halftime lead on their home floor and used that to knock off the number five team in the country. Luke Garza and Joe Wieskamp had 19 and 16 points, respectively for the winners. Iowa held Michigan to just 32 percent from the field. Three Wolverines made it into double-figures.

21 Maryland vs. 24 Wisconsin: Wisconsin 69, Maryland 61

Wisconsin used a dominating second half after trailing at halftime to beat Maryland at home. Brad Davidson had 21 points for Wisconsin, and Ethan Happ had an 18 point, 11 rebound double-double as well. Bruno Fernando had a double-double to lead the Terrapins.

Indiana vs. 6 Michigan St.: Indiana 79. Michigan St. 75 (OT)

Despite losing Juwan Morgan in the first half to a shoulder injury, Indiana ended their skid with a huge road upset over Michigan St. Romeo Langford led the winners with 19 points, and Justin Smith had 13 points and 10 rebounds with the game-sealing block. Cassius Winston had a huge night for the Spartans with 26 points, eight rebounds, and eight assists.

Rutgers vs. Ohio State: Ohio State 76, Rutgers 62

Ohio State shot the ball 53 percent to lead to a victory over Rutgers. Kaleb Wesson had 27 points and five assists, and C.J. Jackson had 20 points and seven rebounds. Despite the win, they trailed -11 in the rebound margin.  Eugene Omoruyi had 19 points, eight rebounds, and six rebounds for Rutgers in the loss.

Nebraska vs. Illinois: Illinois 71, Nebraska 64

Illinois balanced scoring and strong defense led them to a win over Nebraska. Kipper Nichols had 18 points off the bench, while Illinois held Nebraska to just 36 percent from the field. James Palmer Jr. had 22 points and eight rebounds for Nebraska, and Tanner Borchardt had 12 points and 18 rebounds.

Minnesota vs. 17 Purdue: Purdue 73, Minnesota 63

Purdue had five players in double-figures and shot the ball 48 percent in a win over Minnesota. Carsen Edwards led Purdue with 17 points, five rebounds, and five assists, and Nojel Eastern had 11 points, six rebounds, four assists, and two steals in an all-around effort. Amir Coffey had 22 points for Minnesota, and Daniel Oturu had 19 points and nine rebounds off of the bench.

Standings & Rankings

7 Michigan, 20-2 (9-2 )

9 Michigan St., 18-4 (9-2)

15 Purdue, 16-6 (9-2)

19 Wisconsin, 16-6 (8-3)

24 Maryland, 17-6 (8-4)

20 Iowa, 17-5 (6-5)

Minnesota, 16-6 (6-5)

Ohio State, 14-7 (4-6)

Rutgers, 11-10 (4-7)

Indiana, 13-9 (4-7)

Northwestern, 12-9 (3-7)

Nebraska, 13-9 (3-8)

Illinois, 7-15 (3-8)

Penn St., 7-14 (0-10)

Northwestern Is In Control Of The West For The First Time In Forever

The best football team in Chicago isn’t the Bears. No, it’s the Northwestern Wildcats, who have sometimes been an alright team and have sometimes been an afterthought, but haven’t often been a contender. Northwestern is an academics school, they say. Not one of the Big Ten’s football schools, where sports are just as important as classes and where big time recruits end up every summer.

Somehow, though, this academics school is in the first place in the Big Ten West, and thanks to the results from this latest Saturday of action, they have fewer losses than anyone. Only one loss, while Wisconsin and Iowa both have two. They could have held the position with Iowa right at their heels, or lost it depending on how things went, but Penn State helped the Wildcats out big time by holding on and avoiding another fourth quarter collapse.

Their win over Iowa dealt the Hawkeyes their second loss of the season and gave Northwestern some room to breathe. The Wildcats, though, had their own game to worry about. One against a nationally ranked team, Wisconsin, while Northwestern entered without a rank.

At the beginning of the season, Clayton Thorson was projected to be one of the make or break players for Northwestern. Maybe even the make or break player that would decide whether they were mediocre or whether they made noise on the national scene. Thorson was quietly one of the best quarterbacks in the conference last season but didn’t get attention because he didn’t play for one of the more successful teams. Now, however, Thorson took the spotlight.

Northwestern went down with the first score of the game but it was Thorson who used his legs to give them the lead with two touchdowns on the ground. The first came after three straight quarterback sneaks finally moved the ball into the end zone, and the second one was a longer scramble where Thorson carefully juked around a Wisconsin defender before running the rest of the way and getting across the goal line.

Pretty impressive for a quarterback that entered the season after an ACL tear brought his starting status into question. His legs weren’t the only thing that helped Northwestern win the game, however. Thorson connected with his receiver in the end zone for a deep pass in the third quarter that extended the lead from the four points it was at when the pass happened. The deep pass was nearly ruled as out-of-bounds and had a very low margin for error, but Thorson was able to place the ball well enough to keep it just inside the lines.

The Northwestern defense held Wisconsin to 17 points, linebacker Blake Gallagher having the biggest day with seven tackles and three assists. Wisconsin was, admittedly, missing quarterback Alex Hornibrook. But Wisconsin has never relied entirely on their quarterback and their best player on offense this year is running back Jonathan Taylor, who Northwestern impressively held to 46 yards on 11 carries. That’s a big deal for a player that was one of the Heisman favorites in addition to being one centerpiece of the opponent’s offense.

Northwestern is in a position to play for the Big Ten title if they win out, but their next challenge isn’t against a conference opponent. They face Notre Dame next, the number three team in the country. Winning or losing here doesn’t put them out of the hunt for the Big Ten, but it is a major test against a highly ranked team that will help to prepare them for the stretch. Other than Notre Dame next Saturday, they still have to face Iowa, Minnesota, and Illinois.

Win out, and they shock everyone and get a shot at the East winner. Lose a conference game, and things get dicey. If that happens, the division is back to a four team race.

The Big Ten West might not be the best division in college football, but it sure is one of the most interesting this year. And somehow, despite being unheralded coming into the season, Northwestern is the team that’s jumped out in front of everyone with four games left to play.

Northwestern Defeats Purdue After Sindelar Throws Three Interceptions

The first Big Ten game of the season happened on Thursday night, when Northwestern traveled about two and a half hours south to face Big Ten West foes Purdue. The game was close fought, but the Wildcats would be the one to come out with the victory. That doesn’t mean that the result was clear-cut, though. Between both teams, four quarterbacks received playing time, and Purdue had both some highs and some lows over the course of the game.

How did Northwestern steal the road win?

Clayton Thorson is the man at Northwestern. That wasn’t clear heading into the game, but Thorson started and had the most passing attempts, with 26. He also managed to complete 58% of his passes, and threw for 172 yards. Despite Thorson starting, however, T.J. Green entered the game off the bench at one point and had the only touchdown.

That touchdown didn’t come via Green’s arm, however. A one yard run gave him the score, and Green’s yard total came to 63. Not quite the numbers that Thorson, who was the undisputed number one before his injury at the end of last year, was able to put up. Then again, Green had less attempts to work with. He only threw 11 passes compared to Thorson’s 26.

The position players were the stars of the game, though. Three of Northwestern’s touchdowns came from the running backs, and on the Purdue side, Rondale Moore was a standout. Moore is a true freshman, and despite having a slow start where he had a couple of drops, he had his first big reception in the first quarter and didn’t look back. Moore wasn’t just a threat in the passing game, either.

He only had two rushes, but one of them was a 76 yard touchdown that brought the crowd to their feet near the end of the first quarter. That’s not to say that Moore wasn’t one of the top players in the receiving game, though. His eleven catches led the game, as did his 109 yards and one receiving touchdown.

Purdue was within grasp of the win, but in the end, it was their quarterback performance that gave Northwestern the win. Elijah Sindelar played more of the snaps rather than David Blough, but had three first half interceptions compared to his one touchdown. His QBR was only 28.0, compared to 58.1 from Blough. That, combined with the pair of touchdowns on the ground from Northwestern running back Jeremy Larkin, gave the Wildcats the win.

“We’ve got to figure out what gives us the best chance to win. I think both guys will respond and be ready to go,” said Purdue head coach Jeff Brohm, on the subject of who will be the starting quarterback. He decided against making an immediate decision in reaction to the result, claiming that the call hadn’t been made yet.

Sindelar had one of the quotes that sums up the situation the best. “At the end of the day, this is Purdue football and if we win, then we both win. Regardless of if he’s in the game or I’m in the game, like if I get pulled out, that’s my chance to be a leader and a captain and show the guys that I am a teammate and I am going to be there at the end of the day to help him. It’s not about jealousy.”

Big Ten: Purdue vs Northwestern Preview & Prediction

Before conference play begins for some of the bigger names in the Big Ten, Northwestern and Purdue will kick things off with an 8:00 PM night game that should be an interesting matchup. These schools are only divided by roughly two and a half hours, and their game on August 30th will take place long before any of the scheduled conference games this year.

Who has the edge in this battle of neighbors?

It’s somewhat hard to judge Northwestern without knowing who will start at quarterback. Clayton Thorson overperformed last year and threw for 2,844 yards, as well as 15 touchdowns, but was injured just as the season was coming to a close. As such, he’s not the guaranteed started on day one despite being the most talented quarterback on the roster.

Either Thorson or T.J. Green will be the starter, but unless Green has made big improvements during this offseason, Thorson is the better player by a decent margin. Green doesn’t have as much experience entering the season, and he hasn’t even received playing time as a backup. Last season, he only played in one game and had five passing yards total.

The two could end up evenly matched at the QB position regardless of who wins the Northwestern job. Purdue has their own quarterback battle, between redshirt senior David Blough and redshirt junior Elijah Sindelar. Both have had their moments, and both received enough time in the spotlight last year to throw for more than 1,000 yards. Sindelar, though, just about doubled Blough’s production.

Purdue could even use each quarterback in different situations. “We know what coach Brohm is thinking, the plays he wants to call and how he wants it to be different if I’m in, if Elijah’s in,” Blough said recently, praising head coach Jeff Brohm’s communication skills.

Brohm hasn’t just gotten the most out of the quarterbacks that he inherited upon joining Purdue. His tenure has also improved the defense, which became one of the top 25 scoring defenses in the country last year after previously ranking closer to the bottom in defensive scoring.

Junior linebacker Markus Bailey returns after some big performances last year, to man them middle of the linebacker group. They also have a clear-cut leader in their secondary, redshirt senior safety Jacob Thieneman. Just like the rest of the Purdue defense, Thieneman had a big improvement last year and finished with 73 tackles compared to 14 from 2016, in addition to two interceptions.

Northwestern’s defense, on the other hand, will have more of an advantage in the trenches and will look for sacks. They bring back reliable pass rushers Joe Gaziano and Samdup Miller, which should give them an advantage over Purdue in the pass rushing department.

Going back to the battle in the trenches, though, you have to consider that Purdue has more running back depth than a Northwestern team that lost top rusher Justin Jackson and may not have a replacement that’s as good. So who pulls out the win in the end? Both teams are around the same level, but it looks like Purdue could win the coaching battle and they also have less uncertainty about their quarterback situation.

They also play at home. It won’t be an easy game by any means, but their home crowd should give them enough energy to boost them to the victory.

Prediction: Purdue defeats Northwestern 31-24

Big Ten: A Look At Northwestern Quarterback Clayton Thorson

Quarterback is arguably the most important position in football. As such, this is the first in a series of articles looking at the starting quarterbacks of the Big Ten this year, as well as the ongoing quarterback competitions. To start off, we’ll look at a quarterback playing in one of the conference’s largest markets, but for a team that hasn’t turned the corner.

Looking into Ben Ten QB, Clayton Thorson:

This is, of course, Big Ten Northwestern QB Clayton Thorson. Let’s look at the basics. At 6’4 and 224 pounds, Thorson doesn’t immediately look like an NFL pro style quarterback but isn’t small either. He’s a senior this season, and he played 13 games in all three of his past years.

He only made 295 passing attempts in 2015 as a freshman, but was given more chances in the resulting years and threw 478 and 434 attempts in 2016 and 2017 respectively. His sophomore season was undoubtedly his best one. In addition to having the most attempts this year, he threw for 3,182 yards and 22 touchdowns.

Thorson was still productive last season, getting 2,844 yards through the air, but he had seven less touchdowns than he did in the 2016 season. However, to realize what’s behind the dropoff, one needs to look at the percentages of each play type for the Wildcats last season. They ran the ball more and threw it less, making the drop in touchdowns and yards less alarming.

What is alarming, however, is the ACL injury that struck Thorson at the end of last season. He was injured in the Music City Bowl in what should have been a routine trick play, and missed out on spring football because of the injury. Which Thorson will we see, next season? The one that’s smooth in the pocket, able to evade pressure before placing the ball exactly where he wants it? Or a slower one that’s a shadow of his normal self?

It’s impossible to know completely at this point, but from early reports, things are going well. Northwestern head coach Pat Fitzgerald also revealed that the team will make a decision two weeks out on who their August 30th starter is. Thorson, of course, is the option that everyone wants. But if he’s not fully healthy by then, the Wildcats might have to use a starter with little experience, which is not ideal for the Big Ten.

TJ Green, for example, is a junior but only has two pass attempts in his career. Northwestern’s other options are freshmen, redshirt freshmen, or sophomores. The Wildcats have the pieces to pull off some upsets this year, but that hinges on the quarterback not losing games for them. And really, they don’t have any depth at that spot at all.

Will it hurt them this season? Well, we’ll find that out a couple of weeks out from the Purdue game, when we find out whether or not Clayton Thorson will be Northwestern’s quarterback for the entire season.